Reflektor was released earlier this month and has already garnered some pretty serious reviews – Pitchfork gave it 9.2 which is as close to perfect as most albums get these days, while fellow artist St. Vincent said Reflektor is “an utterly 2013 record that asks the existential questions ‘Where are we now?’ and, more importantly, ‘Where are we going?”.
To give some insight into the acclaimed release, STACK Magazine’s editor Jonathan Alley takes you through the album, track by track, so you can listen as you learn. Click on the clip below then read away.
The seven-minute opener is unstoppable; it telegraphs the grandiose euphoria in store. With one David Bowie roped in to contribute vocals (he’s a long time advocate of Arcade Fire), this is one of the gutsiest album openers in an age; it immediately announces intentions; art on the dancefloor, going for broke.
2. We Exist
After the stratospheric high of the opener, any suspicions we’ll immediately return to Win Butler’s Springsteen-inflected journeyman heroics stop here. With a cheeky sub-Madonna bass shimmy that may or may not remind you of her 1983 single Holiday, the track spins off into a post-modern Giorgio Moroder bass galaxy. Ultimately it’s more Blondie than Ciccone.
3. Flashbulb Eyes
This is oddball territory, in the best possible way. Obviously inspired by Jamaican experience, there’s a burning reggae riddim buried beneath the dissonance, it’s Arcade Fire in dub with James Murphy at the controls and there are even steel drums!
4. Here Comes the Night Time
An off-the-beam partier that refrains from another ‘Big Statement’ with off-kilter percussion and wayward rhythms that madly accelerate into a horn-drenched, carnivalesque anthem – well, it would if it wasn’t so skittering and slippery. Enormous fun, will be huge live (hang for this one at Big Day Out) and see the 22 minute film on YouTube first.
5. Normal Person
Consider the following. A fake live opening, shouting “Ladies and gentlemen, The ARCADE FIRE!”. Spoken dialogue: “Do you like rock n roll music, because I don’t know if I do?”. A few bars of music oddly reminiscent of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love. Then, bagpipes. Add this lyric: “I’ve never really ever met a normal person. How do you do?”. Tracks ends. Dialogue: “Thank you!”. Noise of tape clicking to finish. Now, tell us that’s not brilliant.
6. Joan of Arc
Volume One ends with big delayed hand claps, shimmering electro textures and lovely French Canadian backing vocals from Régine Chassagne. Glam rock? Well it’s post-modern electro glam – as glam as you can be, in 2013.
7. Here Comes the Night Time 11
An immediate indication that Volume Two is a more experimental, downbeat, less flag-waving affair. Full of fat electronic pulses that turn over, abetted by delicious cello.
8. Awful Sound of Eurydice
Next you find yourself on a plane flight as dawn peeks over a dark horizon, do ensure you play this track. Oddball percussion, acoustic guitar, strings, treated electronics, a Beatle-esque drum break, and shades of Laurie Anderson. ”It’s an awful sound/ when you hit the ground” sings Butler. With this soundtrack, it’s admittedly better to stay in the air.
9. It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
If you invoke Greek classicism, do it properly. Orpheus ventured into the underworld to collect his dead lover Eurydice, but failed in a crisis of faith. It’s never over? Indeed. This ups the electro tempo of Volume Two considerably; it’s all keyboard shimmer and space.
Tour dates for Australia and New Zealand:
01-17 Auckland, New Zealand – Big Day Out 2014
01-19 Gold Coast, Australia – Big Day Out 2014
01-24 Melbourne, Australia – Big Day Out 2014
01-26 Sydney, Australia – Big Day Out 2014
01-27 Sydney, Australia – Big Day Out 2014
01-31 Adelaide, Australia – Big Day Out 2014
02-02 Perth, Australia – Big Day Out 2014
This article appears courtesy of STACK Magazine.